Decision to reopen Abington Street to traffic ‘called in’

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The decision to rubberstamp a £3 million scheme to reopen the top of Abington Street to cars is set to be scrutinised, after further concerns were raised about its merits.

Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors called in the ruling on the controversial scheme, claiming it had not been consulted on properly.

This request has been granted by Northamptonshire County Council’s monitoring officer, meaning it will now be re-examined.

The plan, proposed by Northampton Borough Council, would see the road opened up from between St Giles Terrace and Wellington Street.

Opposition councillors and members of the public have been vocal in their criticism of the plan, but a number of businesses in Abington Street say it will be a positive move.

The decision will be re-examined on four points, which are “the need to have regard to all relevant considerations; due consultation and the taking of professional advice from officers; a realistic evaluation of all alternatives, and the prior need to identify clear aims and outcomes.”

Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Abington and Phippsville) said: “The highways consultation was wholly inadequate. It took place over the busy Christmas period - hardly an ideal time for businesses and local people.

“Environmental, health and safety implications should have been examined, but were not.”

Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib, Kingsthorpe South) added: “The length local Conservatives are going to make sure that residents and businesses do not have a meaningful chance to comment on plans is deeply worrying.

“From conducting token consultations over the Christmas break, to disregarding negative comments and petitions completely, it is clear that the administration has lost any interest in staying in touch with the people they are supposed to represent.”

The borough council says the move will reinvigorate an area of town which has suffered from falling footfall.

Speaking at a recent meeting in support of the scheme, borough council leader, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm), said: “The order will help improve access and parking. We believe this will give people a reason to go to that part of Abington Street again. The short-term cost will be outweighed by the long-term benefit.”